3 Best Exercises For All 3 Parts of the Shoulder

Hit the back, mid, and front of your shoulders with these movements.

The shoulders are very important for most upper body lifts and movements, so you would want to make it as strong and injury-free as possible. Check out the 3 best exercises for all 3 parts of the shoulder that you should be doing according to Sal Di Stefano from Mind Pump Podcast.

The Mind Pump Podcast is an online radio show that talks all fitness related and, usually, is provocative. Its hosts are Sal Di StefanoAdam SchaferJustin Andrews, and Doug Egge. They also have a YouTube channel with more than 700k subscribers.

These are the 3 favourite exercises from Sal Di Stefan for “full shoulder development.”

The shoulder consists of three major muscles or heads that make up the deltoid muscle, rather than three separate heads of the shoulder. The deltoid muscle is a large, triangular muscle that covers the shoulder and provides its rounded appearance. It has three distinct portions or heads:

  1. Anterior deltoid: This head of the deltoid muscle is located at the front of the shoulder. It originates from the lateral third of the clavicle and inserts into the deltoid tuberosity of the humerus bone. The anterior deltoid is primarily responsible for shoulder flexion, which involves raising the arm forward, as well as assisting in shoulder horizontal adduction.
  2. Middle deltoid: The middle deltoid is situated in the middle of the shoulder. It originates from the acromion process of the scapula and inserts into the deltoid tuberosity of the humerus. The middle deltoid is responsible for shoulder abduction, which involves raising the arm out to the side away from the body.
  3. Posterior deltoid: This head of the deltoid muscle is located at the back of the shoulder. It originates from the spine of the scapula and inserts into the deltoid tuberosity of the humerus. The posterior deltoid is primarily responsible for shoulder extension, which involves moving the arm backwards, as well as assisting in shoulder horizontal abduction.

Together, these three heads of the deltoid muscle play a crucial role in various shoulder movements, providing stability and allowing for a wide range of motion in the shoulder joint.

So the 3 exercises you will see below are Stefano’s favourite movements to cover all three heads of the shoulder and provide a full workout for your shoulders.

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3 Best Exercises For All 3 Parts of the Shoulder

1. Lateral Raise

This exercise is great for your side delts which contributes to that round look shoulder. If you do the lateral dumbbell raise twisting your arm at the top and bringing it a bit backwards, you are taking away the tension from your shoulders and putting it on your back and lats.

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You can do this exercise standing or seated. Di Stefano likes to lean forward just a little bit (if doing standing), making sure you don’t shrug during the movement or rotate the arms out.

If you try to pause for a second at the top of the movement, you will feel even more tension on the lateral head of the shoulder.

Aim for lighter weights and higher reps (10-15 reps).

2. Arnold Press

The Arnold press is targeted at the front delt of the shoulder. Overhead presses are better at targeting your shoulders than front raises, for example, as Di Stefano explains.

Unlike a normal overhead press, with the dumbbell Arnold press, you are twisting your arms as you press up and lower them down. “This spiralling motion is pretty awesome for the shoulder. What it does is it encourages this lower range of motion, its full range of motion,” which activates the front head of the shoulder a bit more.

3. Supported Rear Fly Raise

With a bench on incline and a pair of dumbbells, use the bench to support your chest, lean forward and, with your arms falling down in front and beneath your body, separate the dumbbells sideways without using your back and locking your shoulders in place.

This exercise is Sal’s favourite to hit the back of the shoulder which helps to get a rounder look on the shoulders.

“Do this one slow, controlled, bring them out, separate them, and bring them back down.”

See the video for a better explanation of each exercise and why they are so great at targeting all 3 parts of the shoulder.

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Training the shoulders to make them bigger can be challenging for a few reasons:

  1. Genetics: The size and shape of your shoulders are largely determined by your genetics. Some people may have a genetic predisposition for broader shoulders, while others may have narrower shoulders. This can make it more difficult to achieve significant gains in shoulder size through training.
  2. Shoulder anatomy: The shoulders are a complex joint that is made up of multiple muscles, tendons, and bones. Because of their complexity, it can be challenging to target all of the shoulder muscles effectively with traditional strength training exercises. For example, the anterior deltoids may be easily stimulated with overhead pressing movements, but the lateral deltoids and rear deltoids may require more targeted exercises to effectively stimulate growth.
  3. Overtraining: The shoulders are often worked indirectly through other upper body exercises, such as bench presses and rows. This means that they can be easily overtrained if not given enough rest and recovery time. Overtraining can lead to injury and can also prevent muscle growth.
  4. Lack of progressive overload: Progressive overload is the gradual increase of stress placed on the muscles over time, which is necessary for muscle growth. If you are not progressively increasing the weight, sets, or reps of your shoulder exercises over time, your muscles may not be receiving enough stimulus to grow.

To effectively train the shoulders and promote muscle growth, it is important to incorporate a variety of exercises that target all three heads of the deltoids, as well as the rotator cuff and trapezius muscles. It is also important to allow for adequate rest and recovery time between workouts, and to progressively increase the intensity of your workouts over time.

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Should You Workout Your Shoulders Every Day?

No, it is not recommended to work out your shoulders every day. The shoulders are a complex joint that is involved in many upper body movements, and they require time to recover and adapt to the stress placed on them during exercise. Overtraining the shoulders can lead to muscle fatigue, decreased strength, and an increased risk of injury.

The frequency of shoulder workouts depends on several factors, including your fitness level, training experience, and workout intensity. Generally, it is recommended to allow at least 48 hours of rest between shoulder workouts to allow for adequate recovery time.

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If you are a beginner, you may benefit from working out your shoulders once or twice a week, gradually increasing the frequency as your fitness level improves. If you are an advanced lifter, you may be able to train your shoulders more frequently, but it is still important to allow for adequate recovery time and to avoid overtraining.

Ultimately, the frequency of your shoulder workouts should be based on your individual fitness goals, training experience, and recovery abilities. It is important to listen to your body and adjust your workout frequency and intensity as needed to avoid injury and promote muscle growth.

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